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Smith Maze MIPS Review
Cons: Vents fixed open, tricky size adjustment
Bottom line: A simple, light, great helmet.
Another example of Smith's "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" attitude, the Maze has been a fixture in their line of already amazing helmets. Designed with simplicity and style in mind, Smith cut out the frills and gadgets and made for a minimalist, functional injection molded helmet that it totes as the lightest certified helmet on the market.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Ski and Snowboard Helmets of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Maze is a lightweight helmet and feels that way both in hand and on the head, but don't confuse that with a cheap feel. This helmet has clearly been constructed with a lot of thought. It's tight and clean, simple and efficient.
Fit and Comfort
The Maze fit most of our testers really well, with and without a beanie. As with other Smith helmets, it leans towards fitting rounder heads but can be adjusted to accommodate different shapes. One of the ways Smith achieved its simplicity was by dropping the BOA adjustment system. The Maze does have different foam pads that can be removed or at least rearranged in order to achieve a nice fit, but keep that in mind for sizing if you're planning on wearing a beanie underneath.
Although the Maze fit well, it got docked a few points in our Comfort category for not having an adjustment system. If having an easy adjustment system is important to you, the Smith Vantage or Smith Variance might be better options.
Helmets with vents that are fixed open can only be so warm; that's the nature of having cold air flowing through a helmet. Period, end of story. If you run hot or can fit a beanie under your helmet than you probably won't have any issue at all. With that in mind, our testers had a fine time staying warm by adding a thin beanie or buff under the Maze on cold days. For this reason the Maze scored a 7/10 in our Warmth category. The Editors' Choice, the Smith Vantage, was the only helmet that we felt was significantly warmer than the Maze.
With the above critique in mind, remember that the Maze only has nine vents compared to the Smith Vantage's whopping 21. For this reason helmets with adjustable ventilation, such as the Smith Variance or Smith Vantage, are superior to those without. That said, the Maze has removable ear pieces, which can let in a lot of air flow on a warm day. Although this isn't a ventilation-specific helmet, it does a great job pulling air through the helmet when you're moving, and the only time our testers had an issue with overheating was while side-stepping or hiking to distant in-bounds terrain.
As with other Smith helmets, the Maze performed the best with Smith goggles, with only the most subtle gap noticed during cold days and high speeds. The removable goggle lock held our goggles in place, with no fear of them falling off. Some will prefer to wear their goggles on the inside of this helmet, a new-school look, and will choose to remove the goggle clip in the back for an even cleaner look.
Weight and Bulk
The Maze is one of the lightest contenders, if not the lightest on the market. It fit all of our testers well and had a modern look that is pleasing to the eye and fit under our testers' hoods on stormy days. Some will make the argument that a lighter helmet is safer, because less weight on your head decreases the chances of whiplash injuries during a crash. This is, however, hard to prove definitively in any tests. If weight is your thing, then this is your helmet; if it's not, check out the POC Fornix, the second lightest in our test group.
Our testers liked the look of the Maze, no frills with a clean shape. It feels modern and new age but doesn't present as bulky like some of the other more skate-inspired helmets. The Maze treads the gray area between old and new school, and we see people wearing their goggles on the inside and outside of the helmet. The color choices of the Maze add a lot of style as well. The Giro Ledge offers a similar style helmet with a few subtle differences.
Whether skiing inbounds or hiking in the backcountry, the Maze will perform beautifully. A favorite for many in the industry, this helmet suits the weekend warrior or the 100-day-a-year die hard.
With a much lower price than the Variance or Vantage, the Maze is a great choice that won't break the bank for a solid, well-built helmet from a name you know and trust. For this reason the Maze wins our Best Buy for Overall Value Award; it is slightly more put together and advanced than its competitor the Giro Ledge.
In the above photo we see the Maze (left) and the Ledge side-by-side. Although both are great helmets, our testers felt that the Maze was a slightly better build with more precise craftsmanship. The helmets performed comparably in the Ventilation category, but the Maze scored higher in the Warmth category. For two helmets with a similar style and a similar price our testers preferred the Maze. But try them both on and make sure you've got the right fit before you buy.
Smith knocked it out of the park with the Maze. They shot for a simple, minimalist helmet and they achieved that in volumes. Comfortable, stylish, and warm enough, it vents well and feels light on your head. On top of all that, it's totally affordable.
— Sam Piper
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